4 reasons you’re embarrassed about your copy (and what to do about it)
Have you ever written something and literally cringed?
Not just an internal cringe. You know, where that mean voice chimes in and is all, “Oooh, I cannot believe you just wrote that and you’re planning on putting it on the internet? Forever? Where anyone can see it?”
But a full-on, involuntarily cringe of the facial muscles. A teeth-baring cringe. The kind of cringe that makes your shoulders creep up toward your ears a teeny bit and curl ever so slightly forward.
That cringe sucks. You don’t deserve that cringe.
What’s worse? You might not even know why you’re cringing. Aside from, you know, the involuntary nature of that twitch. All you know is you have this overwhelming feeling of embarrassment.
So let’s have a look at a few reasons you might be embarrassed about your copy. Not to bring more shame but to bring awareness. If you recognize yourself in any one of these, you might just have a good idea where you can start to overcome that embarrassment.
You don’t think of yourself as a writer.
You’ve never claimed to be a writer and would never dare to call yourself one, but you know writing is a skill you need if you wanna be a legit business owner.
But it’s *really* hard for you.
You struggle to put together sentences. You aren’t sure how to transition from one point to the next. You wouldn’t call your vocabulary extensive so you feel like everything you write sounds pretty similar.
You don’t really know how to take an idea and turn it into a piece of content. Like, what do you need to include? How do you start it? How do you end it? How long does it need to be?
You wish you had a better grasp of what you’ve heard people call “the fundamentals,” but you’ve never considered yourself creative enough to even try.
(P.S. You don’t *really* need to be creative to write for your business, by the by. You’re not trying to be confused with J.K. Rowling or her alter ego Robert Galbraith. You’re just trying to bang out a blog post.)
And...if you’re not a writer, how dare you write stuff? You feel like you have no right to hit publish when you’re not a “real” writer.
The fact that you’ve got this mindset block is, honestly, kinda embarrassing for you, and you just wish you had a little more confidence to write and just put it out there – without even taking the term “writer” into consideration.
You feel like you’re all over the place.
You’ve got lots of ideas. Seriously, you have notebooks and notes on your phone and sticky notes on your office wall and a whole Google folder devoted to your ideas.
Which is usually a good thing. A really, really good thing.
Except...sometimes quite a few of those ideas like to ambush one piece of copy. Like completely bum rush it.
So instead of writing a blog post about how to, let’s say, create a mood board for your brand, suddenly you’re writing about creating a mood board and a logo and font pairings and brand archetypes and the ten graphics every brand MUST have.
Rather than stick to one main topic, you often find yourself cramming several ideas into one piece of content.
(No better way to show off what an expert you are than to jam pack everything you can possibly think of into one package, right? I mean, why give ‘em a 12-pack of crayons when they want the 96-pack? Let them have Macaroni and Cheese!)
Your inability to just focus – dammit! – drives you crazy. You don’t know why you can’t commit to one idea.
But you’re pretty sure it leaves people scratching their heads. Like, why is this blog post titled “How to hide hashtags in your Instastories” veering off into the merits of social media as a whole, its effect on our mental health, and whether it’s a viable marketing strategy in the long-term?
And you don’t wanna confuse anyone. You want to share all your ideas with them in a way that’s fun and easy for them to understand. But, usually you just end up hanging your head in shame because, oops, you did it again.
Your style doesn’t match your brand.
I’ve heard from sooo many people that there’s a disconnect between the way they write and the feeling they want their brand to evoke.
For most people, it’s because they spent almost two decades in a school setting, learning “the rules” and being rapped on the knuckles with an un-sanded wooden ruler any time they confused “affect” and “effect.” And then another handful of years (or more) in a professional setting that didn’t exactly celebrate creativity or different ways of writing.
You’re damn well indoctrinated into the “and, therefore, I shall prove most unequivocally” and the “at your earliest convenience” and the “if it please the court” style.
It’s hard to undo that and come across as the cool, fun, casual, insert your preferred brand voice here business you really, really want to be. No doubt.
Your well-structured, five-paragraph blog posts filled with such classics as “in summary,” “henceforth,” and “as demonstrated below” look out of place nestled among your neon brand colors, your tongue-in-check business name, and your carefully curated “I’m different” stock photos.
If you go against your academic and corporate training, you’re pretty convinced that, should your teachers somehow stumble across your website (you know, because they spend their summers googling all their hundreds of past students just to see how well they’ve adhered to the “guidelines”), you’ll be struck by lighting or a falling jet engine, Donnie Darko style. You‘ll probably get an irate email that you’ve gone rogue and to JUST STOP IT. You’re wasting all that education.
You aren’t convinced you can even undo all that indoctrination. You know, zebras can’t change their stripes and leopards can’t change their spots after all.
So instead of slowly trying to unravel the rules and let go of things you don’t really wanna abide by anymore, you’ll just keep on writing in that stale, personality-less drone kinda way. Which embarrasses the hell outta you.
You really don’t give a fuck about an Oxford comma.
(No, the Vampire Weekend joke doesn’t get old around here. Yes, I firmly believe proper punctuation saves lives...ahem, “Let’s eat great-aunt Sophie” vs. “Let’s eat, great-aunt Sophie.”)
You weren’t an English major. Or even a liberal arts major. You were firmly in the math and science arena, and your grades didn’t really depend on how whether you knew the difference between Jane Austen and Jane Eyre or a semicolon and a colon.
You got through your literature classes by joining a study group...also known as crowdfunding ideas and answers and essays from people who were more right-brained than you.
Now that you’re creating content on a regular basis (wait – you ARE creating content on a regular basis, right?!), you’ve started to be a little more conscious of just how horrible your grammar and punctuation are.
There’s only so much spell check and Grammarly can really do for ya.
You find yourself spending unfathomable amounts of time second guessing whether that should be a hyphen or an em dash...and what the hell is an en dash???
You’re never sure when you’re slipping into passive voice and whether that’s actually a bad thing. You have no clue what a metaphor actually is. And you don’t see what the problem is with switching between “you” and “they” or liberally using all 12 tenses in one piece of content.
You’ve started to feel increasingly inferior about your grammar and punctuation (or lack thereof). You’re actually ashamed at your what some might call blatant disregard for the proper use of a comma that you’re too embarrassed to even post a blog anymore without worrying who’s going to send you a scathing takedown of your improper use of accepted capitalization conventions.
Let’s be clear: I am ALL for creative interpretations of grammar and punctuation and – clearly – all caps.
But, if you’ve become too embarrassed by your writing to show up on your blog, on social media, or in your newsletter, that’s most certainly no bueno.
Listen, no one deserves to be embarrassed or stay embarrassed about their writing. It’s not a good look. Luckily, this is pretty much the exact reason I created Copy Confidence – to make you feel more confident and less embarrassed about your copy in 48 hours or less. It’s not magic, but it’s damn near close. See if it’s the spark you need right this way.